NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, October 12th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
Commentator Andrée Seu Peterson now on the small details of physiology it’s easy to take for granted. Until you suffer without it!
ANDREE SEU PETERSON, COMMENTATOR: On November 16, 2016, at 7:08 in the morning after waking I suddenly became violently dizzy: the mirror, dresser, and chest of drawers were flying around the room. This spinning was accompanied by nausea, and I heaved (mostly water) into the trash can that my husband hurriedly swung to my side of the bed.
There were no reasonable explanations or precursors—I hadn’t eaten too late or dined on food that disagreed with me. The very strangeness of the onset immediately made me think there was no reason why this may not be a permanent condition—like the way my friend Heidi lost her hearing in the left ear nine years ago with no warning whatsoever.
I started to consider how I might adapt myself to being bedridden for the remainder of my life. I would need a laptop for my writing. Subject matter would be limited, but I was open to the notion that God could provide a rich vein of material in the new kind of suffering.
After the first hour of retching I found that if I remained perfectly still on my back I was okay, even happy, so that when my neighbors paid visits in the course of the day, they were surprised to find a woman looking hale and ready at any moment to make dinner. The force keeping me immobilized was, as it were, an invisible cage, or like those electronic fences running the perimeter of people’s yards that keep the dog from straying out of bounds.
My daily Bible reading time with David was much extended, which I could not help but see a divine hand in, for many were the mornings I had protested my spouse’s requests to linger longer over some Old Testament passage, or had thrummed impatient fingers at his prolonged prayers. I made a mental connection to the 70 years of Sabbaths that God forced upon the land during the Babylonian occupation in compensation for Israel’s equal number of Sabbath years of neglect of the command to give the land repose for its yielding or crops.
I wasted the afternoon of Day 1 listening to the radio. At the start of Day 2 I lifted my head to see if the glass ceiling was still in place, which it was. I occasionally tried to sit up, in order to satisfy myself that I was indeed bedridden and not pretending. By the third day in the same pajamas I was wondering if I should start dressing in day clothes during the light hours, for psychological reasons and to make a distinction between times and seasons, like God does.
I’m feeling better now. A nurse friend explained the workings of the inner ear and how a renegade microscopic calcium crystal may break off and free float inside the labyrinth to foil the precise equilibrium God established, and what we take too casually as our ability to stand and walk. If Darwin had been in the room, the man would have repented.
I’m Andrée Seu Peterson.